May inspire a few test drives but lacking in horsepower next to Leo Timmers’ Gus’s Garage (2017) or even Gail Gibbons’ staid...

AT THE GARAGE

From the Shine-a-Light series

Over the course of a day, a parade of vehicles from a motorcycle to a fire truck check in to a garage for servicing, mechanical repairs, a paint job, or a wash.

The text promises “a world of great surprises” when the illustrations of this latest entry in the Shine-a-Light series are positioned in front of a light source. The trick does give viewers a sort of X-ray vision that allows glimpses inside tool boxes and a motor home, and they can see through a building to the tow truck that’s parked around a corner. Some of the details hinted at (a mechanic attaching a huge wheel to a heavy-duty tractor, the tail fins of a 1950s-era roadster, and a car emerging from a car wash, for instance) are at least partially visible and easily recognizable in the illustrations, rendering the silhouetted, backlit view something of an anticlimax. Other details (a motorcycle being, well, detailed and underground gasoline storage tanks, for instance) are a bit more interesting. The various vehicles and tools on display are all thoroughly stylized, too. Still, Davis does stock his preternaturally tidy, clean garage with mechanics of both sexes and dark- as well as light-skinned figures, and the author closes with quick descriptive comments about each type of vehicle that stops in.

May inspire a few test drives but lacking in horsepower next to Leo Timmers’ Gus’s Garage (2017) or even Gail Gibbons’ staid Tranportation (2017). (Informational novelty. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61067-598-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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